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First rescue for new lifeboat crew

GRAVESEND'S new £2 million lifeboat service has made its first rescue. The 24-hour patrol crews - launched in a blaze of publicity earlier this month - were called out after a boat lost its engine power at Shellhaven near Thurrock.

The 30ft long vessel was travelling from Faversham en route to Brentford in west London when it encountered difficulties at the weekend. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution crewmen attended to help move the three passengers on board to safety. Nobody was hurt in the incident.

Previously when ships encountered difficulties along the River Thames a group of volunteers would have risked their lives in often dangerous conditions. The RNLI service is the first to employ permanent, paid crews operating 24 hours a day along the river.

It follows an 11-year campaign by the families of the 51 people who lost their lives in the Marchioness disaster.

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